In the Adriatic Sea, off the coast of the Italian commune of Monopoli, scientists have discovered a coral reef with a length of at least 2.5 km! This have been the first such discovery in several centuries.
In contrast to the more familiar tropical coral reefs, Adriatic corals are less brightly colored. Scientists explain this by the depth of the reef.
Corals are colored by microscopic algae living in them – which, like other plants, exist due to photosynthesis and require bright light.
If tropical corals form mainly in shallow water, where bright sunlight easily penetrates, the colony found in the Adriatic is located at a depth of 35-50 meters, where the light is already diffused and the possibilities of photosynthesis are rather limited.
Such coral reefs are called mesophotic (in Greek it means “half-lit”) and are quite rare.
Unlike most coral reefs, the Adriatic colony is formed by so-called stony corals, which eat everything organic dissolved in the surrounding water.
The thickness of the reef in some places reaches 2 m, which makes the discovery of Italian scientists especially rare and unexpected.
Biologists do not exclude that other reefs may be found in the neighborhood, and call for declaring this zone a reserve.
It is known that once in the Mediterranean Sea there were many coral reefs, but the vast majority of them died.